FUJAIRAH // Their schoolmates can only dream of driving a fast vehicle at their age, but seven lucky youngsters are learning how to handle motorised boats in a course designed for children under the age of 15.
They are the first chosen to take part in month-long courses devised by the new Fujairah Marine Youth Training Centre, which aims to keep the seafaring traditions of the UAE alive.
The Dh500,000 centre, which is part of Fujairah International Marine Club, opened this month and has already received more than 22 applications from children across the east coast.
“We have three instructors and four supervisors at the time being, so we can’t accept more than seven to provide full safety and around-the-clock supervision as we are dealing with young children,” said Ahmed Al Blooshi, managing director of Fujairah International Marine Club.
The youth centre’s first move is to provide basic rigid-inflatable boat driving courses for children aged between 8 and 15.
“We have two children aged 5 and 6 accompanying their brothers on the first day, and they were so excited and clever so we invited them to visit the centre anytime they wanted,” Mr Al Blooshi said.
One of the dinghy instructors said the children were very enthusiastic and willing to learn.
“They were extremely excited when we first drove the P750 Catamaran and they were all determined to learn everything about it,” said Seham Hatami.
Each course lasts a month, with children attending two-hour sessions three times a week. They have several assessments to see if they are ready to move to the next level.
“The course is two hours and we spend the first 30 minutes in class teaching them various things about safety, boat parts, engines and how to tie the knot on the boat’s rope professionally,” Ms Hatami said.
“Then we spend the rest of the time on the boat learning how to drive it between buoys and park it.”
One of the lucky seven attending the course said that such sports made him braver and more strong.
“It requires courage and confidence and it helps us to be strong and brave. I love swimming and I have always wanted to learn how to drive a fast boat,” said Emirati Soud Al Blooshi, 11.
His younger brother Yousif said he now knew how to tie knots and drive boats.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen a powerboat. I enjoy my time at the centre and I learnt how to tie the rope in many ways and how to wash it and drive it,” said Yousif, 9.
Their mother said that at first she was a bit worried about their safety.
“When we went to attend the first session I was a little bit worried, but after I saw the safety precautions and the number of supervisors I was relieved and satisfied,” said Najat Al Awadi, 34.
“My youngest son Ibrahim, who is now 6 years old, was so excited and wanted to join his brothers but because he is still young they approved to let him join them as an observer.
“This kind of sport will make them more patience and have self-confidence. I have always encouraged them to do new things but it’s limited in the area. That’s why I’m really proud that we have such an opportunity that will add to their skills.”
* This article has been amended since it was first published.
(via The National)